A Virtual Exhibition22 June - 31 August 2020
Mountains are a continued theme throughout Liz Nielsen's work, both in large and small scale. Liz Nielsen has always felt a strong connection to mountains, the Earth and the cosmos - beyond what is visable and tangible. Seeing mountains as a constant landmark in her own life, connecting the Earth to the heavens, the mountain shapes found in Liz's work are both literal in their presentation and symbolic landmarks in her own search for inspiration and meaning. Nielsen explains, "at their peaks you are closest to the gods and perhaps closer to enlightenment…or closer to a creative breakthrough."
"For thousands of years, pyramids were the largest structures on Earth. I believe they hold an immense amount of mysterious historical energy. The pyramids I present in my photograms are not of the past, but instead of an idea. The shape symbolizes a significant connection to the universe and the unknown.
My pyramids are also connected to my portal series, which are collapsed-triangles that transform in front of our eyes - open to interpretation and manifesting to each viewer differently and interchangeably - as a wrinkle in time, to doorways, the bow of a boat, mountains, or as a pathway disappearing in the horizon. Against the sun, a pyramid would silhouette into this portal shape, so really the shapes I am presenting are a matter of perspective and distance"
The Moons are an ongoing project that the artist has been exploring for over 8 years, these compositions are “mandalas, points of stillness and meditation.’ The works are inspired by the theory that the universe will eventually experience an inverse of the Big Bang, called the Big Bounce – where all celestial bodies will implode in a spectacular end, planets, stars, moons all collapsing, realigning and eclipsing each other as they hurl towards a single origin. Nielsen's photogram Moons are meditations on this moment, of an intense and unknown event that hints at a hopeful new beginning, possibility and rebirth. Each piece is named after an individual who has somehow touched the artist’s life, Nielsen creates these works as portraits of energy, spirit and possibility within their dynamic and subtle compositions.
Fantasy, the stories of mythical creatures and memory are all closely linked for Liz Nielsen. In childhood, the artist was interested in mythical creatures like Bigfoot, Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster, the stories of these larger than life creatures and the magical or eerie moments around their sightings have stayed with Liz through adulthood and remain powerful memories that continue to influence her work. She describes atmospheric changes such as wind stopping, eerie feelings arising and then an apparition - moments that many have experienced but dismissed. In this way, these mythical figures appear within the artist's photograms, here patched together in overlapping squares like a reconstructed memory or building a meaning into what cannot be fully understood.
The small works are a quintessential component in Liz Nielsen's artistic process. What once started as small studies for larger photograms, have now become integral works within the artist's oeuvre. The small photograms are intimate, tactile, and immediate manifestations of the artist's inspiration - like a diary. These works are made as the artist is seated and are closely related to the artist's practice of drawing - whereas the larger compositions are acts of performance requiring movement and physical stamina. Unlike the meticulous planning involved in some of Nielsen's larger and more painterly works, the small pieces have more flexibility, allow for more experimentation and are spontaneous in their creation. What may start out as one idea evolves to another completely in the process creating these works. Each piece is titled from the form Nielsen sees appearing within her abstracted shapes, but she insists the works are meant to be fully interpreted by the viewer. Meaning is only determined through the eye of the beholder. These small works are dedications to a process, to creativity and inspiration - they are icons embodying infinite meaning.
(small) Exhibition List
Please do contact Black Box Projects with any questions or if you would like to arrange an appointment to view works from the (small) exhibition or other pieces from our Liz Nielsen gallery collection.
Liz Nielsen in the studio, McColl Center artist residency, 2020. Image courtesy of Chris Edwards.
Liz Nielsen's work is a contemporary application of one of the best-known avant-garde photographic processes - the photogram - which was first mastered by Man Ray and Maholy-Nagy at the beginning of the twentieth century. Each unique image is created without a camera in the artist's studio using handmade negatives and 'found' light sources. She calls her work 'painting with light' referring to the performative nature of its creation.
A colourist at heart, Nielsen's works are deeply saturated, sometimes deceptively simple, compositions. Carefully planned and executed with skilled precision, nevertheless these works are subject to the unpredictable nature of the artist's chosen medium - light. 'The final outcomes are pre-planned with strong intention and formally composed,' Nielsen explains, 'but because I'm working with light, there are always some surprises. The light bleeds and spills and doesn't want to be contained.'
Nielsen's in-depth knowledge of the physics of light and the colour wheel are necessary to execute her unique analogue colour photograms. There is a mastery of skill, not only with the variation, depth of colour and texture she is able to achieve in her compositions, but also the intricacy of shapes, layers and precision within the work. Unlike traditional black and white photograms where a red light can be used in a darkroom, Nielsen must work in total darkness when creating these pieces. Even a hint of unintended light would expose the paper in unwanted ways, potentially jeopardising the final outcome. Nielsen has mastered both the light and the dark to execute her works, inspired by colourists of the art historical cannon, the laws of physics and the mystical nature of the cosmos.
Liz Nielsen received a M.F.A. in Photography at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a B.F.A from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Nielsen is part of this new generation that have returned to the essential elements of analogue photography and its processes as subject matter, reimagining the abstract and painterly potential of the medium. Nielsen's work has been exhibited extensively in solo and group shows in London (Black Box Projects), Chicago (Zolla/Lieberman Gallery), New York (Danziger, Laurence Miller, Yossi Milo and David Zwirner Galleries), Berlin, Dublin, Budapest, Paris (NextLevel Gallery). Nielsen's work was part of the J.P. MORGAN CURATOR'S HIGHLIGHTS - "PICTURES-IN-PLAY" at Paris Photo Fair 2016. Nielsen has works included in the JPMorgan Chase Art Collection. Nielsen's exhibitions have also been reviewed in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Guardian, Artslant, the Wall Street Journal and Libération, among others.
Born in 1975 in Wisconsin, USA
Lives and works in Brooklyn, NYC
2004 MFA, University of Illinois, Chicago, United States
2002 BFA, The School of the Art Institute, Chicago, United States
1998 BA, Philosophy and Spanish, Seattle University, USA
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
Liz Nielsen: The Arrival, Black Box Projects, London, UK
London Art Fair with Black Box Projects, London, UK
Entanglement, Horizont Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
Liz Nielsen: Tracing the Azimuth, May 16 - July 27, 2018, SOCO Gallery, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
Liz Nielsen + Paul Smith Collaboration with Black Box Projects, Paul Smith Global Flagship, Mayfair,
Liz Nielsen: Hotspots, Danziger Gallery, New York, NY, USA
PULSE Miami with Danziger Gallery, Miami, USA
Unseen Amsterdam, with Danziger Gallery, Amsterdam, Holland
Photo London, with NextLevel Galerie, London, United-Kingdom
Force Fields, NextLevel Galerie, Paris, France
Snake Charmer, Horizont Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
The Medium, Danziger Gallery, New York, USA
Night Garden, SOCO Gallery, USA
Magic Lantern, Laurence Miller Gallery, New York, USA
Wolf Moon, Denny Gallery, New York, USA
Tiger Teeth: Red Light: Liz Nielsen, Benrimon Contemporary, New York, USA
Blue Shifts, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Interlochen, USA
LIZ by LINA, Schalter Gallery, Berlin, Germany
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
Fundamentals, Black Box Projects, London, UK
Painting with Light, Yossi Milo Gallery, New York, NY USA
Unseen Amsterdam, Black Box Projects, The Netherlands
Artfare Launch, New York, USA
Launch Exhibition, Black Box Projects, London, UK
Work in Process, The Photographers Gallery, London UK
Liz Nielsen & Dylan Gebbia Richards, April 6 - May 12, 2018, David B Smith Gallery, Denver, Colorado, USA
Angell Gallery, Toronto Art Fair, Canada
Aspen Art Museum, Art Crush, courtesy of SOCO Gallery
Let There be Light, Angell Gallery, Toronto, Canada
Winter Song, NextLevel Gallery, Paris, France
Lights, Camera, Action, curated by Haley Finnegan at Kunstraum, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Usable Space, curated by EddysRoom, Milwaukee, WI
2017 Paris Photo, with NextLevel Galerie, Grand Palais, Paris, France
Women in Color: women and color photography, curated by Ellen Carey, Rubber Factory, New York, USA
Full Bloom II, NextLevel Galerie, Paris, France
VIVE ART BENEFIT curated by Rachel Philips and Anna Ortiz , Honey Ramka, Brooklyn, NYC, USA
Painters and Photographers curated by Jamilee Polson, Providence College, Rhode Island, USA
Art Market Budapest, Horizont Galeria, Budapest, Hungary
Aspen Art Museum, Art Crush, courtesy of SOCO Gallery, Aspen, Colorado, USA
Along a River of Saphire Pools, Mountain Gallery, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Double Vision, Artists who Instagram, LabSpace, Hillsdale, New York, USA
Pulse Miami Beach Contemporary Art Fair, with Danziger Gallery, Miami, USA
Untitled Art Fair Miami Beach, with Soco Gallery, Miami, USA
Satellite Art Show, with Elijah Wheat Showroom, Miami, USA
Paris Photo, with NextLevel Galerie, Paris, France
Davidson College Gallery, USA
Two person exhibition with Max Warsh, curated by Jessamyn Fiore, Pallas Projects in Dublin, Ireland
Summerzcool, Curated by Austin Eddy and Benjamin Edmiston, Houston, USA
Two person exhibition with Max Warsh, Curated by Jessamyn Fiore, Sirius Art Center, Cobh, Ireland
Spring Break Art Show, curated by Kelly Schroer, New York, USA
Geometric Cabinet, Kristen Lorello Gallery, New York, USA
EddysRoom, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Double Vision, Silver Projects, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Handmade Abstract, BRIC Art Center, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Hot Slice, Zolla/Lieberman gallery, Chicago, USA
Wonderful Lies, Danziger Gallery, New York, USA
Black and White, Ameringer, McEnery, New York, USA
Project Room, Danziger Gallery, New York, USA
Material Art Fair with LVL3, Mexico
Paris Photo, with Laurence Miller Gallery, Paris, France
Westport Arts Center, Westport, USA
Expo Chicago, Laurence Miller Gallery, USA
Real Time, Future, Experience, New Capital, Chicago, USA
Spring Break Art show, New York, USA
Black and White, La Montagne Gallery, Boston, USA
Art Untitled Benrimon Contemporary, Miami, USA
Fractal Semblance, Roots & Culture, Chicago, USA
NADA Miami, Rawson Projects, USA
Fictitious Truths, Curated by Kara Rooney, Rooster Gallery, New York, USA
Anderson, Murphy, Nielsen, New Capital Projects, Chicago, USA
People Who Work Here, Curated by Rawson Projects, David Zwirner gallery, New York, USA
First Love, Curated by Angela Bryant, O'Connor Gallery, Dominican University, River Forest, USA
Color: Fully Engaged, curated by Jamilee Polson, A & D Gallery, Columbia College, Chicago, USA
Juried Auction, NURTUREart hosted by the Chelsea Art Museum, New York, USA
Feeble Intimacy, LVL3, Chicago, USA
J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation
RESIDENCIES, AWARDS, & GRANTS
Budapest Art Factory, Hungary
Orange County Relocation Grant, Newburgh, New York, USA
Dave Brown Art Prize
CAAP Grant, Chicago, Illinois, USA
VISITING ARTIST LECTURES & WORKSHOPS
SOCO Gallery, Charlotte, NC
International Center of Photography, Teen Academy, New York, USA
Unseen Living Room, Unseen Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Knockdown Center, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Penn State, State College, PA, USA
Sirius Art Center, Cobh, Ireland
FASHION COLLABORATION PROJECTS
Paul Smith Design, with Black Box Projects, Mayfair, London, UK
Hermes Parfumerie, with art director Cory Jacobs, New York City, New York, USA
Refinery 29, New York City, New York, USA
Stevan Alan, Chelsea, New York City, New York, USA
Salvatore Ferragamo, Chicago, Illinois, USA
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